10 September 2012

Rwanda: WFP Representative Decries Shortage of Food Rations for Refugees

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) has decided to reduce food rations for refugees living in four camps across Rwanda by 25 per cent starting this month.

According to Abdoulaye Balde, the WFP country representative, the reduction has been decided due to the shortage of resources.

While talking to The Rwanda Focus recently, the official noted that the decision will only affect cereals and beans while other commodities remain untouched.

"We currently do not have sufficient funds to provide the full recommended daily allowance of 2,100 kilocalories to all refugees in the four camps. Each refugee will get 1,656 kilocalories per day after the reduction," he said. "This is not something we want to do but if we do not (cut aid) then we risk not having any food at all by the end of the year."

Balde said WFP is urgently seeking donors' support to cover a critical shortfall of 3,000 metric tons of assorted commodities valued at US$ 4 million, which is the sum needed to feed the refugees until December 2012.

"If we do not feed them now, the consequences will be much more expensive than feeding them right now"

MIDMAR powerless

By simple calculation, the reduction would see an individual ration per month reduced from 12 kilograms of maize to 9 kilograms and from 3.6 kilograms of beans to 2.7 kilograms. The refugees in the four camps in Rwanda depend entirely on food assistance provided by the international community through WFP, as they are unable to cultivate their own food.

Statistics from the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDMAR) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) indicate that there are currently 57,641 refugees living in Rwanda among them 57, 216 - about 99.3 per cent are Congolese.

At the moment, MIDMAR is powerless with available information suggesting that there is nothing else they can do other than advocacy considering the fact that there is no food for refugees provided by their budget.

The Permanent Secretary at MIDMAR, Antoine Ruvebana, told The Rwanda Focus that the only provision they have is for repatriated Rwandans to help them integrate into society. But the official is confident that the international community will intervene, given that the same situation happened last year for two months and get resolved shortly.

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